Describe the main character in "The Sniper."

Describe the main character in "The Sniper."

Expert Answers info

Jonathan Beutlich, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12), Professional Writer

bookB.A. from Calvin University

bookM.A. from Dordt University


calendarEducator since 2014

write5,866 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Science, and History

The main character in the "The Sniper" is the Republican sniper.  Very little direct characterization is done by the author, so much of the reader's impressions of him come from how he acts.  

Physically, we know that the sniper is male.  We know that he is thin and young looking as well because the story tells us those details.  

His face was the face of a student, thin and ascetic, but his eyes had the cold gleam of the fanatic.

More than likely, the sniper is young, but it is possible that he simply looks like a young student as well.  As for being thin, that is probably a result of not being able to get a minimum calorie intake during wartime.  The rest of the above quote gives readers a look into the sniper's personality.  "The cold gleam of the fanatic" tells us that the sniper is passionately devoted to one of two things.  First, he could be devoted to the cause.  Second, he could simply be a fanatic about killing people, and that is why he is a sniper.  Either way readers will quickly learn that he has no problems shooting and killing unarmed combatants.  

I believe that the sniper is quite brave.  Once he is under fire from the enemy sniper, he could have decided to extricate himself from his discovered position; however, he successfully kills all three targets while under fire.  The firefight also shows readers that the sniper is cool, calm, and capable of creative thinking while in an incredibly tense situation because he thinks of a way to fool the other sniper into committing a mistake that costs the enemy his life.  

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Blake Douglas eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2013

write1,033 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Science, and Math

The titular sniper, who is not given a name, is a young Irishman. We are told little about him directly; most of his characterization comes from the description of his actions, and what he looks like, not necessarily who he is, or was, before the war. This is probably intended to diminish his individuality, with the purpose of making him a representative of virtually any young man in the war. 

The first description we are given of the sniper is that he has the "face of a student, thin and ascetic". While allusions to a student may draw up...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 748 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Kristy Wooten eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write1,183 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial